Culture/Arts in General

More Transparent Than Rain – a new poem/video

My latest contribution to alleviating that locked-down feeling is a poem (and accompanying video) that features on Hugh McMillan’s Pestilence Poems website. As reported by the BBC, Hugh has used this time of isolation to bring poets, readers, and, in this case greyhounds, together.

I have a real affinity for a Japanese writer of poems and stories, Miyazawa Kenji. His most famous poem is ‘Strong in the Rain’, and my poem is an admiring contemporary response to it.

The video is here and the words are below. The Burns and Donnchadh Bàn referred to are, of course, eminent Scottish poets.


More Transparent Than Rain 

More transparent than rain

Or at least so grey as to be invisible

In the interminable grey rain,

Accepting breathlessness and heartache,

Asthmatic eyes and blind lungs,

Too despondent to have the energy for anger

His belly half-full with gruel-grey porridge, rotten

Vegetables, and bruised burst fruits

He understands himself to be, from childhood, inferior.

He does not expect automatic doors or

Motion-sensitive lights to register his presence,

No worthwhile photograph of him exists.

He limps through damp draughty rooms which only

Spiders, moths and mould would call home, in a city

He has never recognised nor understood.

Whenever he meets someone he pictures the when

The how the aftermath of their death;

He has forgotten what it is to be spontaneous,

To be gigglingly happy or to live, but momentarily, free.

He is ceding the fight to be who he was meant to be.

His worst has bested him. Gossip misunderstood him wilfully;

No one sings his praises or witnesses the unearthly

Goodnesses he – simple, regular ex-star matter – achieves.


A poem where the poet is a compassionate deed,

A poem that’s epic, invisible, heroic – a sutra

Infused with the fallible Bodhisattva ideal – that is the kind

Of poet I would like to be, a reincarnation, perhaps

Not of Burns or Donnchadh Bàn but sincere, altruistic Miyazawa Kenji.


Image credit: Unknown author – Kamakura Museum of Literature archives




By Kevin MacNeil

Award-winning poet, novelist, screenwriter and playwright originally from the Outer Hebrides now living in Stirling (Scotland).